Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Richard Bazeley, wood shop teacher from down under sent me a couple photos of some of his earlier rustic work.

He describes his relationship with rustic work as follows:
Your enthuiasm and joy for rustic work is coming across loud and clear. It is something I have also experienced and it left a deep impression on me. Making furniture like this allows a lot of room for creativity and spontaneity in contrast to the more exacting demands of fine cabinetmaking. The two complement each other but I feel that rustic work gives the maker more freedom to explore the natural possibilities of the material. During the 80's I had a rustic period when I made a lot of chairs and stools. The chair shown here is made from Brown Stringybark that grows in the bush around this district. It has a narrow stem and can be coppiced but most of what I cut was dead standing and so had dried naturally. The bark that grows in layers can be peeled off with a knife. For most of the chairs, I left the last layer. Later I chose to drawer knife the bark back to the outer layer of the wood and spoke shave to a smooth finish as in the stool. The backs and arms of the chair are made from Blackwood which I bought from the sawmill and air dried. The arms of this chair are high but this suits me and it is my favorite chair to sit in.

The tenons of the rungs are turned on the lathe and the mortises for the back slats are cut with a chisel. The early seats had blind mortise holes but later through tenons and wedges became a feature. Mostly hand tools are used so there was plenty of time to listen to the radio. The back slats are steam bent. That is a great technique in itself to experiment with. I am pleased to report that the seagrass seat has survived constant use for 20 years and although it could do with repacking it has proved a very durable material. I used seagrass in most of my seats but was fortunate to have some finished in rush that I collected from the local creeks and dried. I set out to make furniture entirely of local materials and this was achieved with items like the stool and a number of other chairs and seats. Making a product entirely from local materials was immensely satisfying to achieve. The other thing that I gained was a wealth of knowledge as I went further into the techniques of chair making especially making furniture from green
wood. I could quite happily spend my days just pursuing that one area of interest.

Unfortunately in the 90's the great wave of "new" technology came upon our shores and the teaching profession responded with "Technology" Education. I was caught up in learning about the new technologies and having to "adapt to change". I can still remember the feeling of shock as I sat on a city railway station after my first week of computer training. The Phantom of Technology had struck a mighty blow and I was left reeling. I spent a number of years trying out new techniques and approaches to my teaching and my personal woodwork. There has been a lot of time spent working through the design process and reading about the effects of technology on our lives. I think that I am finally over it and the phantom is off my back. Seeing you making that stool has reminded me of the great joy that I had with the first small chair that I made for my son so that he could stand and reach the taps on the basin and wash his hands or clean his teeth. It is made from sticks that I collected on a walk from our house. I will send you a photo and I think that you will understand.

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